A Money Management Grid

You may have heard of Stephen Covey’s time management grid which is made up of the following four quadrants:

  • Important and Urgent
  • Not Important and Urgent
  • Important and Not Urgent
  • Not Important and Not Urgent

This grid can help you figure out the priority of your to-do items.

This past weekend I was thinking about how I could categorize things we spend money on so we could prioritize them. I ended up with a modified version of the time management grid, only for money. So here is a money management grid to help you prioritize what to spend your hard-earned money on.

Here is how my money management grid works:

Necessity or Not: There are bills we have to pay, things we need to pay for, or investments we need to make that we would consider necessities. There are other items that we may pay for that are not vital to live, but we like to have them.

Consistent or Not: Some bills or items have a consistent cost associated with them. Every month the mortgage and car payment are the same. Other items do not have a consistent cost, such as groceries. The amount we spend at the store varies each month. We could spend a set amount or we could spend less, if need be.

  • Necessity and Consistent (NC)
  • Necessity and Not Consistent (NXC)
  • Not Necessity and Consistent (XNC)
  • Not Necessity and Not Consistent (XNXC)


Money Management Grid

Click on the image to enlarge. 

The items in my example are not necessarily my items. I included several items that I thought were common and others to get you thinking about what items you would include in your own grid.

It is important that you list the items in priority order as well. That way, if you do find that you don’t have enough money, you will know what items need to fall off your list. (Again, my example isn’t necessarily in priority order – it is just an example. Everyone will have their own list of items with their own priority.)

Note that I have savings in both the NC and XNXC quadrants. Savings should really be a necessity and consistent but if you are struggling to just put food on the table, contributing to savings may not be one of your top priorities, or a realistic one. But remember that even setting aside a dollar a day can be savings!

So when you are trying to figure out a budget, consider:

  • Necessity and Consistent (NC)
  • Necessity and Not Consistent (NXC)
  • Not Necessity and Consistent (XNC)
  • Not Necessity and Not Consistent (XNXC)

Your Income – NC –  NXC (average) = $some amount

NC and NXC are the items you consider to be necessities. So your money must first be used to pay for those items.

Then work with what you have left for the Not Necessity items: XNC and XNXC (average), based on priority.

If something does have a consistent cost and you choose to include it as a top priority, then you know exactly how much money you will need for it.

If something does not have a consistent cost and you choose to include it, then you will need to set a budget for that item. For example, for hobby supplies, you may have only $20 to spend every month.

You should also set aside an “emergency fund” for when unplanned things happen or a not consistent item ends up costing more one month than usual.

If “Necessity” and “Consistent” don’t work for you, you can obviously modify the grid to use the criteria that make sense to you.

Also, please note that I am not a financial advisor by any means. This is just an idea I had that I wanted to share in case you would find it helpful. If you need financial advice, please seek professional help. 

If you like this idea, feel free to download the PowerPoint or the PDF version of the blank grid below for your personal use.

Money Management Grid

Download the free printable grid now:

What other items would you add to the money management grid?


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